Marolt: Where have all the carolers gone?
It is officially the awkward time of year. We must now reconcile the top 10 news stories from last year with the top 10 predictions for next year. Is there any correlation? The things we remember are glorious or tragic, while the things we predict are outrageous but possible and hopeful for proving we have supernatural powers of prediction. We live forever with memories as easily as the prognostications are forgotten or twisted so we can relish in the glory of proclaiming, “I told you so.”
The pre-Christmas ski days are past, and although the slopes are quieting down again to where fresh powder might last until 9:30 a.m., the excitement of getting up on the hill to see what new runs they have gotten ready to open is gone. The coverage is good and the mogul runs are looking like the 2017 Bugs have finally arrived on the Volkswagen sales lot, but things feel a little stale, like wrinkled sheets that the guests left behind on the beds.
The Christmas carols and Target holiday sales adds we have heard as background noise since the last doorbells of Halloween rang out have vanished without a trace. I miss them like eggnog, all thick and sweet and oddly refreshing with a dusting of nutmeg that would make one sick if served with hot dogs at the Fourth of July picnic.
I don’t think I miss the crowds, yet the streets feel a little lonely without them. Excitement is contagious, even if it emanates from a shouting match witnessed in the City Market parking lot. It’s hard to make small talk at the end of the day about people who were polite to you in town.
At this point, shoveling snow is back to being a chore instead of a calming time alone working up a pleasant sweat and burning off fudge in the dark below the colored lights strung above the garage, glowing translucently beneath flakes camouflaging the cord connecting them, making the show enchanting. There is little amazement left in watching the snowbanks grow by the shovel-full to prove that winter has finally arrived. There will be more times than not from now on when I wish it could board a private jet and head back to Alaska. Thanks for the memories!
About the time we get things into perspective, we host the Winter X Games and then reality becomes whatever the perpetually record-setting crowds who come here to watch them say it is. My gut tells me that The Games are getting duller, but the people who count people, without the benefit of turnstiles or ticket stubs, proclaim the event more popular than ever. That’s not for my benefit anyway, it’s the advertisers that need convincing.
We also have Gay Ski Week, which, thankfully, has become a non-event. There is no statement to be made with it anymore, at least not here where we pretty much accept everyone as people without a modifying identifier attached. I am glad to say that I don’t think anyone has to come here anymore because of whom they love, but only because there’s a pretty good chance that the skiing will be good.
They say the days are getting longer. I don’t usually notice until sometime around the middle of February, when, greeting the friar after five-thirty mass, it occurs to me that the sky is still light and the glow of the Christmas lights on the trees outside the chapel are only faintly noticeable. Until then, it’s a lot of brushing the snow from your shoulders as you emerge from the darkness after work into the warm immersion of home and aroma of heavy food simmering on the stove. It’s wine time instead of beer and that keeps us sentimental with dinner talk that lasts longer than it does in the summer when there are other things to do before bedtime.
All in all I feel fortunate to breath the mountain air in January even though it sometimes freezes the hairs in my nostrils and causes me to cough because it’s so dry. The kids will be back in March for spring break and by then I will have experienced the first little bit of sunburn on my cheeks to remind me to start putting on sunscreen when I head outside and also that the enjoyable kind of mountain bike riding on thinner tires through dust will be here before I can manage to get back in shape.
Roger Marolt has already purchased a Christmas gift for next year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nearly five dozen racers competed in the Owl Creek Chase on March 7, continuing a longtime tradition for the local cross-country ski community.